Artists and Kukas

Posted on | October 10, 2013

Kukas? Sounds like an abbreviation of an insect or a latin-american instrument. If you happen to be an artist, you better make sure you know what a Kuka is. You might want to perform with one soon. KUKA is a German manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation. Sounds unexciting. Yes indeed, but wait until you see what this industrial robot does.

Within a month, I experienced two different artistic performances with Kukas. Coincidence or does this actually reflect a trend in artistic interactions with the highly complex robotics equipment?

Three identical looking pieces of art were recently created – at the same time but in three different places. While the ‘original’ was created by the Austrian artist Alex Kiessling at the museum of contemporary art  in Vienna, two industrial robots copied the work 1:1 on prominent places in London and Berlin. So detailed that only the artist could see any difference.

The project, called ” Long Distance Art – . Global.Studio.Vienna ” linking the three cities for a day via live stream on large screens. “This installation merges the disciplines of art and ‘ high technology ‘. ” explained the director of Vienna Tourism, Norbert Kettner the performance who assigned Kiessling.


Here’s the video:

The robot becomes the extended arm of the artist. But it is the synchronic movement that’s been mesmerizing me and many others at this September’s Ars Electronica Gala in Linz once Huang Yi and his Kuka compagnion took the stage. The taiwanese choreographer and artist has been working for many years studying and interpreting the movements of the body. His dance performance with the robot which he called ‘duet between human and robot’ is a must-see.

Here’s the video: